FCC Outlines IP Trial Item

Goal of trials is to gauge impact on consumers

The FCC Thursday outlined its plan for an IP transition item, to be voted in January, that would launch a wide-ranging effort to test the transition to Internet Protocol delivery through trials that keep consumer welfare and enduring network values, like access, top of mind.

That came in its December public meeting.

The commission will conduct trials, monitoring and measuring as it goes along. It will also enlist other agencies for their expertise, again with competition and the public interest squarely in its sights.

To that end, the FCC has signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with the National Institute on Aging to share expertise about the impact of the IP transition on relay services. It will also seek other such agreements and bring other agencies into the trials.

There will be a timeline for initiation and conclusion of experiments, the FCC says, but with an eye toward the need for speed.

“We appreciate the focus and energy that Chairman Wheeler and the commission are bringing to this transition," said USTelecom President Walter McCormick Jr. "Removing barriers to innovation and investment in delivering broadband and IP services to American consumers and businesses will produce benefits throughout our economy.  We look forward to working with the commission to ensure that this transition to the networks and services of the future is as seamless as possible for consumers.“

"We're glad Chairman Wheeler is committed to protecting the public as the agency takes its next steps on the IP transition. But the technical jargon and misleading statistics thrown around in this debate cannot cloud the FCC's vision," said Matt Wood, policy director, Free Press. “The broadband market will remain uncompetitive unless the FCC takes decisive action to restore its authority. That is ultimately what this debate is about. Our democracy and economy rely on communications networks, no matter what technologies those networks use.”

“We are grateful for the leadership of Chairman Wheeler and the FCC’s Technology Transitions Task Force in addressing the ongoing evolution of the network and recognition of the importance of competition," said Angie Kronenberg, chief advocate and general counsel, COMPTEL. 

"When the critical wholesale tenets of the Telecom Act have been fully implemented, competition has thrived. The principles of the Act do not change, however, as the network transitions to new technologies. New entrants have been leveraging IP technology for more than a decade to cost-effectively deliver a host of innovative products and services to consumers."

"As legacy carriers begin to more fully embrace IP technology and the Task Force explores a variety of issues related to this network evolution, it is important that the fundamental goal of the Act – to provide consumers with greater choice through competitive options – is not diminished."

"We believe the Commission can best promote competition and ensure that consumers can access their provider of choice by ensuring last mile access and interconnection on reasonable terms, regardless of technology."